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Close Reading Folders

By Jessica Aggrey

This last Friday, I attended a workshop on high-challenge / high-support curriculum. (If you work in the California Community College system, think the California Acceleration Project and AB705 implementation.) The workshop leaders, Melissa Reeves and Jose Cortes, had us participate in an activity designed to help students zoom in and unpack important ideas from key parts of a text. In an integrated reading/writing classroom, this post-reading step is essential to the production of strong written assignments. Below are the directions for this activity.


  1. Select several key passages from a reading (equal to the number of groups you plan to have. I think 3-4 students is a good group size for this activity). Find passages that you want to make sure students take time to unpack and understand and that are relevant for any writing assignment you will have students do about the reading.
  2. Photocopy each passage, cut it out from the page, and tape it to a half sheet of paper. Write the page number, so students can find the larger context.
  3. Put each passage in one pocket of a folder.
  4. Number each folder.
  5. Give each group a folder and the following directions:

    1. You will get 8 minutes to work with your partners to read, discuss, and write a summary of the passage.
  6. Give students 8 minutes to summarize the passage. Then ask them to put their summary face down on one side of the folder and then return the passage to the other side.
  7. Rotate each folder to a new group and instruct the students to do the same thing again. Tell them not to look at summaries from the other groups.
  8. Repeat until each folder returns back to its original group.
  9. Instruct each group to read all of the summaries of their original passage and then either write a new one from the knowledge they’ve gained by reading what others had to say about the passage or select their favorite summary.
  10. Have each group read their master summary to the class.
  11. Collect and scan all summaries to post on the class’s course management page.


Blue folder with paragraph in one side and a blank paper in the other.


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